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Heaving electronic bosoms
For something that came together almost randomly five years ago, SNAFU seems just about the perfect title for BLOT!'s debut album. The popular military acronym which stands for "situation normal, all fucked up" is how Gaurav Malakar, the aural half of the audio-visual collective - Avinash Kumar is the other half - describes their daily routine.
"Avinash and I are always doing so many things at the same time that there's constant chaos, " Malakar says. "Also, it seemed like the perfect name for an album. The beats and the sound are all over the place. "
An integral part of the alternative music scene in Delhi since 2007, the creation of BLOT! according to Malakar, was the result of "fortuitous timing". Studying law and DJing on the side, Malakar met Kumar through common friend Akshar Pillai. The three of them put their heads and money together and put on a show for a friend's party. The kitschy mix of audio-visuals had people clamouring for more. And that's when the idea of BLOT - Basic Love of Things came into existence.
"It wasn't an aspiration to become a band, " confesses Malakar. Kumar chips in, "But we figured out that this was more than just fun for us. "
Though both Malakar and Kumar have different approaches - Malakar thinks in terms of sounds and Kumar in terms of image and design - the desire to experiment is something they share.
Interestingly and strangely, Malakar and Kumar never discuss how to go about a gig. "He does the music. I do the visuals and it all comes together at the gig, " says Kumar, 32, who studied at the National Institute of Fashion Technology and
started a studio called Quicksand.
Their brand of music that segued in and out of the familiar realms of techno, combined with stunning and at times, hilarious visuals - think scenes of heaving bosoms and men clad in Superman outfits dancing in B-grade Bollywood films - had people transfixed. Some remembered the music, but more people talked about the visuals. "Different people see different things in us and we're a little bit of everything, " says Kumar.
For Malakar, it was time to put the record straight. "The unspoken pressure was mounting, " he laughs. "I'd always wanted to produce electronic music but I wasn't always very confident about my skills. Over the last couple of years, I put my head down and figured out what really interests me and what I want to do. "
SNAFU is a result of that introspection. The album is a mixed bag of influences and sounds. It's electronica, with scant regard for genres. So there's the mandatory techno, melodic ambient and dubstep with shades and R&B and gypsy jazz.
"It's a good representation of the different styles within electronic music, " is 27-yearold Malakar's description of the album. "There's fast stuff and slow stuff. I wasn't inspired by techno anymore. I'd begun to enjoy melodious stuff and had a lot of ideas which were interesting but not something I'd done before. But at the same time, I wanted to include techno because we'd come this far on the basis of that. " Indie music names like Vasundhara of the Delhi jazz and R&B band Adil & Vasundhara and Pete Cat Recording Co's Suryakant Sawhney find space on the record alongside warm synths and driving bass lines. "It wasn't a pre-meditated decision to collaborate with these people but that's the beauty of the independent music scene, " says Malakar. "Everyone's so keen to collaborate and experiment. " The end result is an album that makes for a rich listening experience. Tracks like 9238 and Tatamae grow on you suddenly while the basslines and bells in the title track will make your shoulders twitch. Be it on the dance floor or in the car, it's an album that will shuffle proudly on your playlist. If Malakar's job was to make the music, Kumar's work begins now. "I let him do his own thing, " he says, "but now, I have to get the videos ready and we also have a DVD coming out. "
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